Numbat's review of: Catilla
“Stalk before you strike.”
Silent, yet vigilant. Enjoys stalking his victims and then moving in to attack. Nothing escapes his cunning clutches. Battle helmet equipped with infrared sensors, long range radar and tracking systems. Whip-like tail can crush buildings with its iron grip. Top-mounted turbo blaster provides phenomenal speed and agility on the battlefield. Maximum speed: 150 mph. Armed with air concussion cannon, durabyllium-steel alloy fangs and claws that can slash through the thickest armor.
Pretenders, which hit shelves in 1988, were an interesting new take on Transformers. This new line composed of Transformers within organic shells, which took the form of either a humanoid or beast. Within would be housed a Transformer – which in the case of Pretender Beasts have a mechanized alternate mode matching the organic shell. A barely passable and rather weak storyline was devised by Marvel Comics to explain this turn of events. However, one of the strong points of the tale is the faction change exhibited by Catilla. Originally a Decepticon summoned by Scorponok, he switches sides and joins the Autobots! I love a good traitor…
Catilla was the first Pretender I owned as a child, which is why he has been the last to fly to a new home. That’s not to say I don’t like Pretenders though, and certainly is not a great reflection on the fun of the figure – I just have very limited space for my collection, and move frequently, so it’s forever being whittled. Catilla is actually a rather fun toy, and one of the better Pretenders in my opinion!
Catilla’s ‘sythoplasm’ shell is, as the name suggests, in the form of a cat. A big cat. Not like a lion or a tiger – I mean a really
big cat. A Sabretooth tiger of epic proportions!
Measuring around 9” (23cm) from nose to tail, this chap must be a shoulder height of at least 20’ depending on which Transformer you compare him to! More realistically, of course, he’s not that tall given the disproportionate sizing of G1 figures, but, hey, he’s still big!
Despite the overwhelming yellow fur, it’s impossible not to see a resemblance to Battle Cat (or Cringer…) from He-Man. And he has about as much poseability – i.e. none.
His back is covered partly by a red mechanical harness, which can have a cannon attached to it, while a silver face-guard can be fitted over the head (hiding the rather nifty pink scars) – which matches nicely with the worryingly metallic tail.
To give credit, although the shell lacks even the superfluous arm articulation of the humanoid figures, it is rather robust and excellent for bashing around, as a kid. The only trouble is, Catilla’s inner robot sits rather poorly within, and is always eager to bash his way out!
The inner ‘bot, when removed or involuntarily expulsed from its shell needs to be unfolded a little, before resembling a smaller (around 4” [10cm] long), mechanical version of its disguised form.
Grey dominates, with a yellow head, front claws and rear legs. Articulation is much improved, but still G1 blocky – with meaningful movement only possible at the hips, shoulders and tail. Blue eyes and stickers add interesting highlights to the otherwise bland figure – although the transparent stock seems to peel far more easily than most G1 stickers from the same era.
Still, he’s a fun mechanical cat, really – looking good on display, and definitely fun to muck about with! He has that anti-hero air to him…
The transformation, as with many of the Pretender inner ‘bots, is very simple, and the result is a little disappointing, but still good fun and far from the worst to come from this particular concept!
Molded detail seems to stand out a bit more in this mode, although it is limited to simple indentations largely. Stickers add flashes of colour, while a pinkish red is introduced for the angular – and definitely feline – face. In fact, the face sculpt is one of the shining features of this figure, as it perfectly captures the feeling of a volatile dissenter by ever so slightly tweaking rather generic Transformer features. Whether or not this is deliberate or an accidental bonus is open to debate – but there it is.
Unfortunately, the robot mode regresses in way of articulation – meeting the shell and alternate modes half-way. He is rather rigid, with shoulder articulation being the only useful point of movement. The legs, in fact, are fused below the knee, with the tail being molded to suggest a dividing line… Poor show, really, but rather typical of the era. The fists let us down, too – being small and solid, they are unable to hold any weapon - let alone that massive cannon used in the shell mode!
Not the most displayable mode, but a rather fun design for what was developed as an intriguing character. Perhaps better as a child’s plaything, as opposed to a collector’s piece (unless you are a particular fan of the Pretenders).
Marks out of ten for the following:
2 – Very simple, but fitting the robot within the shell can be rather tricky.
9 – This guy is solid. The only things preventing a ‘10’ are the poor stickers, and the possibility that the tail could snap off the inner ‘bot, as it seems rather delicate.
5 – As a toy, this guy is great fun! I reckon a child would be blown away even in this day of crazy technological features (in fact, perhaps because of this over-use of fixed features over simple imagination). As a display piece, though, no mode really excels.
6 – He’s not at all bad, from around £10 ($19) for a complete loose example. A mint boxed piece could set you back as much as £50 ($96) though!
4 – He’s a fun character, from a forgotten era, but is unlikely to be a dramatic addition to your collection unless you are a Pretenders fan!